The Mowat Government
THE MOWAT GOVERNMENT
WHY IT SHOULD BE SUSTAINED.
A SPEECH DELIVERED BY
PRESIDENT OF THE TORONTO YOUNG MEN'S LIBERAL CLUB,
On November 20th, 1893.
[Issued by the Young Men's Liberal Club of Toronto.]
Gentlemen, — In my address delivered to you on the 23rd of October,
I alluded to the coming Provincial general elections, and I expressed in
general terms the reason for believing the present Government would be
sustained. I made no attempt on that occasion to review in detail the
record of the Mowat administration, but dwelt more particularly on the
club's affairs and our work for the present session.
It appears, however, that one or two of my remarks have formed
the text of the inaugural address of Mr. W. D McPherson, the newly-
elected president of the Young Men's Liberal Conservative Association
of this city.
In his address Mr. McPherson takes issue with my statements that
prudence, forethought and economy have prevailed in every branch of
the administration, and at considerable length dwells upon what he con-
siders to be the shortcomings of the Mowat Government, and by an ex-
traordinary course of reasoning unknown to any system of logic either
ancient or modern, and based upon ill digested, mis stated and half -con-
cealed facts, endeavors to persuade his hearers that the interests of the
people of Ontario lie in placing in power his "revered leader," Mr. W.
R. Meredith, supported by that section of the " party of progress" that
finds shelter in the Local Legislature.
The charges made against the Government by Mr. McPherson are
not altogether new, nor are the facts and figures entirely unknown to
the reading public. A reference to the Empire's report of Mr. Clancy's
speech on the Provincial Budget of this year will show a wonderful
similarity in Mr. Clancy's and Mr. McPherson's methods of dealing
with Ontario politics.
The same facts are given, the same words used, the same arrange-
ment observed, the same mistakes made. Occasionally Mr. McPherson
varies from Mr. Clancy in order to relieve the monotony, but substan-
tially in all, and exactly in parts, one address is the reproduction of
I propose, with the permission of this meeting, to state more fully
the reasons which appear to justify the belief that the coming election
will result in the return of the present Government. In stating these
reasons I shall not pretend to originality, but shall simply follow in the
footsteps of abler men who at various times have discussed provincial
affairs in support of the policy of the Mowat administration.
Three Good Reasons.
Let me at the outset set forth in three general propositions why the
Mowat Government should be sustained.
1. Because it is a Good Government.
No jobs disgrace its long tenure of office. Its record is clean. • It
has discharged honestly the trust reposed in it by the people.
2. Because it is an Economical Government.
The expenditure of moneys has been careful ; the resources of the
Province have been husbanded ; the revenues safely guarded, and the
burdens of the people have been lightened.
3. It is a Progressive Government.
Legislation has kept pace with the progress of the people. Reforms
have been introduced. Defects have been cured. Evils eradicated.
Wrongs redressed. No people in the world are more law-abiding than
those in Ontario, none feel the restraint of law so little.
If these three propositions are justified by the facts, then we stand
on solid ground. Any Government that fulfills these conditions is
worthy of support.
Let us look at some of the main features of Ontario's Government
during the last twenty years, and in so doing refer where necessary to
the criticisms of Mr. McPherson.
The various interests over which the Government exercises super-
vision may be classified under «the following heads : — Law, Finance,
Education, Public Works, Grown Lands and Timber and Agriculture.
This department presided over by the Premier has met with but
little hostile criticism. Under his able judicial management Ontario
has advanced along the line of legal reform with rapid strides. From
year to year the work of law improvement has gone on ; practice has
been simplified ; litigation cheapened ; equitable doctrines have been
encouraged, and purely technical legal knowledge has given way to a
greater degree of common sense in the administration of our laws.
Ever eager to accept timely suggestions for the removal of legal diffi-
culties the present head of the Government has given the people of
Ontario twenty years' careful administration of justice, and has sought
to reach, and equalize the conditions, of all classes of the community.
The practical unanimity with which the management of his depart-
ment has been received emphasizes its satisfactory character.
The financial administration of the Government has come in for con-
siderable criticism by the Opposition, though no charge of any conse-
quence has ever been preferred, and no better method of managing the
finances has been presented.
Controlling under the authority of Parliament the receipts and
expenditures of all provincial moneys the Treasury Department occupies
an important place in the Government of the Province. The finances of
the Province are in a sound healthy condition, both absolutely and
In leferring to our financial position, Mr. McPherson starts out
with the assertion that " We find the expenditure constantly increasing
with the revenue decreasing, the debt piling up, and the Government
sacrificing the public domain."
The charge of increasing expenditure is an empty one, unless it can
be shewn that we are not getting value for our money.
No one pretends for one moment that the expenditure of the Pro-
vince in its present condition should remain at the same figure as it was in
1872. With an increasing population; an extended area of territory;
a more thorough and efficient administration of Provincial affairs, an
increase in expenditure is but the natural outcome of the changing and
increasing needs of the people. The great question to be determined
is whether the moneys are expended wisely. If it can be shewn that in
every department no expenditure is incurred that cannot be defended
on public grounds then the charge of over expenditure fails. Has Mr.
McPherson shown the increased expenditure to be improper 1 Can he
by any fair means point out wherein he would make any appreciable
reduction 1 If he can he is far in advance of his party, both in and out
of the Legislature. The records show that from 1883 to 1892 out of
a total expenditure of over $32,200,000 the Opposition objected to
only $89,775 or $1 in $360. The expenditure for the different years
of the present regime may have increased, but only in keeping with the
growth of the Province. Nothing is proven whatever by lumping the
expenditure from 1873 to 1883, and from 1883 to 1892 ; and, by com-
paring them on general principles, draw the unwarranted inference that
because the latter decade shews a greater increase than the former,
therefore the expenditure is wrong.
If such a comparison be correct in principle, then the Government of
Hon. John Sandfield Macdonald must have been a disastrous one. In
1867 the Sandfield Macdonald Government expended on civil govern-
ment, $18,219.17, but in 1868 increased the expenditure to the enor-
mous figure of $90,959.62, nearly five times as much.
Yet no one seriously charges the Sandfield Macdonald Government
• with extravagance, because of this fact. The cost of civil government
ife increasing very slightly in comparison with the growth and develop-
ment of the Province. So with all other items of expenditure. The
increase, if any, is in perfect harmony with the increased needs.
During the last ten years we have added Northwestern Ontario to
this Province, enlarging our area by 100,000 square miles. We have
also increased in population about 200,000. Should not these facts
be taken into consideration when discussing fairly the cost of Govern-
We must also remember that during < the last 21 years, numerous
new public institutions have been established and maintained — such as
the Central Prison, Mimico Asylum, Model Schools, Teachers' Institutes,
Agricultural College, Experimental Farm, etc., besides the creation of
a National Park system, the Mining Bureau and many otherbranches all,
of which have been endorsed by the people of Ontario. It is* but neces-
sary to point out a few of these facts to shew the absurdity of Mr.
McPherson's whole contention as'to increased expenditure.
Then as to the revenue, the two great sources of revenue are the
Dominion grant and the Crown Lands Department. Out of a total
revenue of $4,662,921.57 for the year 1892 we received from the
Dominion subsidy and speci6c grant $1,196,872.80, and from the
Crown Lands Department $2 252,972.27.
The Dominion grant is unalterable at present. The Crown Lands
revenue varies, but has the satisfactory feature of being an increasing
Mr. McPherson says that "at the present time the financial
equilibrium depends in the affairs of this Province upon the frequent
and enormous raids into our forest wealth."
In other words, the timber sales held during the last 21 years have
been, in Mr. McPherson's eyes, a wrong ; in his opinion, the Gov-
ernment should n< t have utilized the almost unlimited timber
wealth of Ontario for the purpose of expending wisely the moneys
derived therefrom in the interest of the whole people. Does Mr.
McPherson suppose that any government would allow the vast timber
stretches of this Province to remain simply because as time rolled on
they might become more valuable 1 Does he not know that if timber
were never used it would have no value whatever ? Does he not know
that timber is needed for human wants as well as other natural pro-
ducts ? Does he charge the Government with giving away our timber
wealth, or is he not aware that no more advantageous timber sales
were ever made than those conducted in this Province during the last
21 years? Every stick of timber sold by the Ontario Government
brings its full value.
The Government have made no " raids upon our forest wealth ; "
they have taken advantage of the opportunity, as they were bound to
do, to dispose of timber berths at the best possible figure, and have
applied the proceeds of these sales for the use of the whole Province.
The policy of selling our timber has been in vogue since Confedera-
tion, during which period we have sold 9,900 square miles of timber
limits, 4,234 of which having been disposed of by the Mowat Govern-
ment. The people have approved this policy, knowing that under the
present system, sale by public auction, the highest price will be realized.
The last sale, which took place in 1892, was one of the most successful,
633 square miles bringing $2,315,000, or an average of $3,657.18 per
square mile t
Compare this showing with the manner in which the Dominion
Government has disposed of its timber limits, by parcelling them out to
hungry followers at $5 per mile, and the policy of the Ontario Gov-
ernment has its amplest vindication.
Mr. McPherson says our public debt is piling up. This will be
news to most of us who have been consoling ourselves with the fact
that Ontario has no public debt. At page 176 of the Statistical Year
Book for 1893, prepared by the Dominion Government, we have the
provincial public debts set forth, but Ontario does not appear in the list.
Quebec has a net debt of $15,564,447 ; Nova Scotia, $1,358,118 ; New
Brunswick, $1,894,092; Manitoba, $697,815; British Columbia,
$620,844 ; Prince Edward Island, $185,000. With reference to
Ontario [is the following; "The Province of Ontario has sold
annuities to the extent of $1,432,519 to provide for railway expendi-
ture, but these annuities are paid off by a fixed term every year out of
consolidated revenue, and, while a liability, do not stand on exactly the
same footing as ordinary public debt. The Province, however, has
assets very largely in excess of the above sum."
So much for our public debt. Mr. McPherson's financial criticism
is of value largely because of the inaccuracies it contains. We are
told that the "total railway grant in 1891 was $4,588,168." As the
House voted only $3,622,427 for all purposes, Mr. McPherson has
evidently been following Mr. Clancy and consequently makes the same
egregious mistake in the use of figures.
The statement of the Provincial Treasurer, delivered on the 11th
April, 1893, shows the sound financial condition of the Province — from
1867 to 1892, our total receipts were $74,768,294.75, our total expendi-
ture $73,923,101.90 — leaving a balance in favor of receipts of
In addition to this there is still a surplus of assets over liabilities of
$5,838,758.12. Such is the financial condition of Ontario.
The educational system of Ontario is the proud boast of all our
citizens. Ample in its provisions for the education of all classes ;
liberal in the course of instruction provided ; furnishing the most
complete facilities for advance from the elementary to the higher
ranks ; knowing no distinction whatever between the different sec-
tions of the community ; it commands the united support of all our
people, and is admired throughout the world. Under the control of
a Minister responsible to Parliament and to the people, the Educa-
tional Department is annually giving unquestionable evidence of the
efficiency of its management and of the improvement in the intellectual
condition of our citizens. Year after year we are spending large sums
of money in the development of brain, and certkinly no money is
better invested. The last Annual Report of the Minister of Educa-
tion shows a steady improvement in educational matters throughout
Mr. McPherson tells us that " in 1871 we had a Superintendent
of Education, and the work of public instruction was never better
performed. Now we have a Minister of Education, a Deputy-Minister
of Education and clerks of clerks in the endless routine of idleness."
This is refreshing from the chairman of the Toronto Board of School
The change from a Superintendent to a Minister of Education took
place largely through the advice of the late Dr. Ryerson, who for
years was the Superintendent of Education in this Province. As far
back as 1868, Dr. Ryerson suggested the transfer of the Education
Department to a responsible Minister, and again in 1871 wrote to the
Government urging the adoption of his views in that direction. In
1876 the change was effected, and after 15 years of practical experience
no one conversant with the system as at present conducted would think
seriously of returning to the old state of affairs. To-day under the
democratic principle we have an Education Department completely
under the|control of the people. We have raised the standard of
education throughout the Province. We have diminished the number
of inferior schools, and are affording more suitable accommodation for
our largely-increasing school population.
The reports from this Department indicate the steady advance we
are making, and amply justify the Government in the course they
have pursued. To say that the edu sational system is a huge political
machine is to ignore the fact that the administration of that part of the
system in which politics might be introduced is entirely in the hands of
the school sections, and through them, the trustees.
The presence of Mr. McPherson as chairman of the Toronto Board
of School Trustees is in itself a contradiction of his own statement.
Then as to the " Clerks of clerks in the endless routine of idleness,"
it is but necessary to refer to the last Report of the Minister of Educa-
tion for the information that the " Clerks of Clerks " are twelve in
In his address Mr. McPherson has little to say with reference to
the Department of Public Works. That department, under the able
management of the present Oommissioner since 1874, has been faithfully
administered. No job has ever been perpetrated upon the people ; no
" figuring up" and "figuring down" has been permitted to allow
enormous steals from the treasury through corrupt bargains with
Immense sums of money have been expended in the construction
and maintenance of public works throughout the whole Province, and
no single charge has ever been preferred against the Department. The
bugaboo of the new Parliament Buildings has almost faded from
our minds. No longer shall we hear of this plank of the Conservative
platform. The buildings are complete and stand to-day a fitting tribute
to the prudence, foresight and economy of the Department and the
Crown Lands and Timber.
The task of supervising the Department of Crown Lands, with all
its complexities and details, is not a light one. Against this Department
theOpposition have for years concentrated their efforts hoping to discover
some evidence in support of their baseless charges.
Mr. McPherson complains that the expenditure in this Department
is increasing. He has not troubled himseif with pointing out where the
increase is not reasonable and right, but simply makes the bald state-
ment that the expenditure has been growing, and consequently must be
wrong. It may occur to students of (Ontario) politics that the territory
over which the management of the Crown Lands Department extends has
been considerably enlarged during the very years that Mr. McPherson
complains of. It will also be remembered that it was owing to the
persistent offorts of his revered leader and his followers that the question
of the disputed territory remained so long unsettled, and that if the policy
of the Opposition in this Province had been successful the Ontario of
to-day would have been 100,000 square miles less than it is. The vast
timber, mineral and other resourses in which the new Ontario abounds,
might have have passed to other hands in so far as the party repre-
sented by Mr. McPherson is concerned.
We are told that the expenditure in 1883 in the Grown Lands
Department " was $67,131 ; in 1892 it was $131,732, an increase of 96
per .cent." Why the year 1883 should be taken is unexplained, unless
it be that the expenditure that year reached a comparatively low figure.
If Mr. McPherson had been willing to treat the Department fairly
one would have expected from him something more than the mere
statement of increase. It was not impossible for him to shew wherein
that increase lay, and to satisfy any fair-minded person that the ordi-
nary expenditure in the Crown Lands Department shows but little
variation from year to year.
Let us take the two years given — viz., 1883 and 1892 :
In 1883 we paid $67,131
We carried into 1884 surveys. . . 11,098
Add cost of Ottawa and Quebec 4,883
Giving a total of $83,112
In 1892 we paid 131,863
Less one-half fire ranging to be repaid . . 13,951
Cullers fees 900
Excess over $83,112 of $33,900.
From this, however, are to be deducted cost of services in
the new territory — finally acquired since 1883 — and new services
performed in 1892. Services in the new territory — viz., sur-
veys, timber and land agents' expenses and salaries and share of timber
sale — amounted to $15,756, reducing the excess to $18,144.
New services, including one-half fire ranging, Cullers' Act refund,
timber sale, new land agencies and fishery overseers, amounted to
$26,065, thus showing that in 1892 we actually paid less for the same
services in 1883 by $7,921. In addition to this we carried over and
paid in 1892 for surveys for 1891 $3,700, so that the ordinary services
in the Crown Lands Department for 1892 cost $11,621 less than in
1883. One might go on indefinitely, but this instance will suffice.
The attention given of late years to the mining industry, the establish-
ment of Government parks, the opening up of new townships for settle-
ments and for license, besides the natural increase in the ordinary work
of the Department, are all matters that would justify an increasing
expenditure. The great wonder is that the cost of managing the
Department has not increased far beyond the present figure.
Mr. McPherson's Two Principles.
Mr. McPherson says that two principles should be borne in mind in
the administration of the Crown Lands Department.
1. " The need of conservation of lands which at present belong to
As there are yet about 105 millions of acres yet undisposed of out
of a total acreage of 126 millions, we can rest assured that the work of
conservation has been going on for many years in Ontario.
2. " The re-foresting of portions from which timber has been taken,
in order that there may be a continuous crop of timber from which a
surplus and an increasing revenue could be received."
This sounds quite reasonable.
There is no doubt that were W. R. Meredith and his progressive
followers at the helm, a whole army of reforesters would be struggling
over the hills and rocks of our northern country, developing in a truly
scientific manner the cause of forestry. But of course this would be
only for a time. As under the new regime no timber would be sold, the
science of reforesting would gradually come to an end, and with its
termination the surplus and " increasing revenue n would disappear.
The demon of direct taxation would confront us with all its terrors,
The Crown Lands Department has been managed well. It is doing
much to increase our knowledge of the resources of this great Province.
No valid objection has been raised against it.
From all attacks the Government has successfully defended itself,
and no investigation has revealed any transaction of which it may be
The Department of Agriculture, as re-organized by the Ontario
Government in 1888, gave to the farmers of this Province a distinct
recognition of the importance of their vast influence and merits.
Occupying, as it does, a first place among the industries of Ontario, it
was but natural that at the hands of the Government agriculture should
receive the utmost consideration. The success that has attended the
establishment of this Department is but the logical outcome of the care
and industry bestowed.
Farming is a science. The old ways are giving place to the new
and improved methods of cultivation, as in every other department of
life. The need of system and knowledge is felt, so in the tilling of the
soil and the bringing to their greatest perfection the fruits thereof.
The high position occupied by the farmers of Ontario, whenever they
have been placed in competition with those of other countries, is largely
due to the assistance rightly given by the Government.
Yet Mr. McPherson says that " we have a Minister of Agriculture
who has practically nothing to do and accordingly does little, a Depart-
ment which could easily have been managed by one of the other Minis-
ters, and should never have been created."
If Mr. McPherson would only take the trouble to look over the
reports of the Department of Agriculture, he would find that no idle
time is spent by the Minister in the care of his Department. He would
see that attention is being directed to every part of the Province, with
a view of placing the agricultural interests on a sounder basis. He
would find that the rapid progress which characterizes the management
of agriculture in Ontario is not obtained by idleness but by work.
Reference is made to the Agricultural College at Guelph, and the
charge of increased expense made.
As usual the figures given are misleading and at times incorrect.
From 1883 to 1892 the staff was increased by three and the salaries
by $5,QP0, not very large for ten years' work.
The Experimental Farm has been added since 1883 as well as the
entire Dairy Department, including the travelling dairy, experimental
work in dairying and special dairy school.
The total cost of the College in 1883 was $58,056 including salaries,
less $14,654 revenue, or making in all a net cost to the Province of
$43,402. Mr. McPherson has added in an item of $12,000 which
■hould be charged to capital account, being expenditure incurred in
In 1892 the net cost was $60,464, after allowing for a revenue of
$19,035, and placing to capital account the sum of $27,000 expended in
The slight increase in expenditure during the last ten years is fully
accounted for by the immense additions to the work of the College.
To-day nearly all the students are from Ontario, and the capacity of the
College is fully taxed to meet the attendance.
The Liberal party do not agree with the assertion that the Depart-
ment of Agriculture should never have been established. Recognition
of the rights of agriculture has been a leading plank of the Liberal
platform, and the results of their efforts in stimulating the industry are
of the most gratifying character.
Provincial Secretary's Department.
Prominent among the matters pertaining to this Department are the
Inspection of Division Courts, Insurance, Chartering of Joint Stock
Companies, Auditing of Criminal Justice Accounts and until lately
the license system, besides the official correspondence of the Province.
The license system of the Province and its administration have
come in for a good deal of unfavorable comment from the Opposition,
and Mr. McPherson has deemed it his duty to unload the usual stereo-
typed charges in that regard.
To talk of it being a huge political machine and used for the pur-
pose of making every liquor dealer a mere tool, is simply a farce. Time
and again have the Opposition been challenged to substantiate these
reckless charges but as often have they failed.
The increase in receipts from licenses during the last nine years
is accounted for largely by increased license fees. In 1876 the muni-
cipalities were empowered to increase the fees for their own benefit by
the maximum amount of $100 in cities, $120 in towns and SI 40 in
incorporated villages and townships. Since the Province took control
of the Liquor Licenses in 1876, the municipalities have received
$1,224,290 more than has the Province from this source.
Regarding the decrease of licenses during the years from 1883 to
1892 (Mr. McPherson evidently means from 1882 to 1890), and the
increase in costs for the same period, Mr. McPherson will readily see
that reduction of the number of licenses does not necessarily mean the
lessening of the cost of administering the license system.
The increase in 1890 over 1882 was not due to enormous advance
in salaries. This increase includes miscellaneous expenditure for office
rent, printing, magistrates, constables, witnesses, detective and counsel
fees, etc., which, in 1890, amounted to $9,773 more than in 1882.
The total amount paid for Inspectors' salaries and Commissioners'
expenses in 1890-91 exceeded that paid in 1882-83 by only $10,140.
During the interval, six new license districts were erected. Three
assistant License Inspectors had to be appointed in Toronto, Hamilton
and Ottawa. The expenses incident to these were $6,450, which sum,
deducted from $10,140, leaves an increase in nine years of only $5,690
for 88 license districts, or an average of about $5 a year for each
The policy of the Government in the regulation of the liquor traffic has
met with the approval of the temperance people throughout the Province
and by the electors has been endorsed in an emphatic manner. The
transfer of the license system from the municipalities to the Govern-
ment has given a better license law, a better class of hotels, and has
reduced to a gratifying extent the evils of intemperance. The number
of licenses is being reduced, and outside of a total prohibitory law it
would be difficult to find a system that has met with more unanimous
approval from the friends of temperance than has the Liquor License
system of Ontario. So much then for a short summary of the different
departments of the Government.
Mr. Noxon's Appointment.
In general terms Mr. McPherson charges the Government with using
the public resources for the benefit of political friends, and instances
the appointment of Mr. Noxon as one case where an unnecessary
appointment was made. Mr. McPherson should know that in the office
Mr. Noxon fills as Inspector of the Central Prison he has abundance of
work to perform. The Central Prison is no longer a mere depository
for criminals, but in recent years has been enlarged and widened until
it is one of the great institutions of the Province. Lately the binder-
twine manufactory has been added and this, together with the other
branches of industry in vogue there, necessitated the appointment of an
additional competent man. No man in Ontario has a better reputation
than Mr. Noxon had for the possession of the essential qualifications for
such an office — a practical business man, thoroughly acquainted with
the work of supervision, endowed with natural faculties and having had
a large experience. The Government was fortunate in securing such a
man for the position — the saving of the merest trifles in the purchases
will more than repay the Province for the salary outlay. When mer-
cantile institutions throughout the land pay their managers the most
princely salaries, the people of Ontario will not grumble at the cost of
having such an efficient manager as Mr. Noxon. So through the list.
The position of the Government regarding the plebiscite is also
attacked. It is clear, however, that the Government in making provi-
sion for a plebiscite on the temperance question* were acting in conson-
ance with the expressions of opinion fiom representative organizations
throughout the Province. From temperance societies were presented
495 petitions ; from churches, 314 ; from municipal corporations, 156 ;
in all, 965 in favor of a plebiscite — while on the other hand, 255 peti-
tions were presented from temperance societies, 54 from churches and 5
from municipal corporations, in all 314 in favor of prohibition. The
question of the sincerity of the Government in this matter is easily
answered by the above.
The closing words of Mr. McPherson's address are truly significant.
He intimates that no longer will his party fight on the line of bigotry
and prejudice. Before his mind there no doubt arose the " Facts for
Irish Electors " in the election of 1883, when all that was worthy of
Irish consideration was alleged to be found in the Conservative ranks
alone \ or it may be that the Ross Bible of 1886 appeared in judgment
before him as a reminder of the failure of his party to make religious
cries a stepping stone to power ; or, later on, he must have heard the
distant sound of " unite against the common enemy " as borne over the
hills and dales in 1890 it led his party to disaster. 'Tis well he dis-
claims against bigotry and prejudice, for in the politics of this Province
there is no room for such. And it is because the Government of Sir
Oliver Mowat has kept clear from the breakers of race ^and creed,
because that Government has moved on higher grounds in the admin-
istration of affairs, and because the Opposition has failed to grasp^the
true principles of government, do we believe that 1894 will see no
change so far as the Government benches are concerned. (Loud